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Latino Daily News

Friday May 9, 2014

Environmental Groups Fight Tourism Project Threatening World Heritage Site in Mexico

Environmental Groups Fight Tourism Project Threatening World Heritage Site in Mexico

Photo: Cabo Dorado

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Environmental organizations are demanding the Mexican government block a proposed tourist project in the northwestern state of Baja California Sur, saying it would pose a severe threat to the Cabo Pulmo marine reserve.

“The Cabo Dorado project must be avoided at all costs due to the large amount of regional impacts that would jeopardize the environmental viability and people’s wellbeing in that region in the short, medium and long term,” they said in a statement.

La Rivera Desarrollos BCS, a joint venture made up of China’s Beijing Sansong International Trade Group and U.S.-based Glorious Earth Group, plans to invest $3.6 billion to build Cabo Dorado in the same spot where another giant development project, Cabo Cortes, had been planned.

Mexico’s government canceled that earlier project in 2012 over environmental concerns.

Friends for the Conservation of Cabo Pulmo, the Mexican Center for Environmental Rights, Wildcoast and Greenpeace, among other groups, said they would present their arguments against the project on Thursday at a public-information meeting organized by Mexico’s Environment Secretariat.

The non-governmental organizations say Cabo Dorado, which would include construction of 22,503 guestrooms, will create a settlement of 440,000 inhabitants with a water demand of 50 million cubic meters (1.76 billion cubic feet) annually and put Baja California Sur’s water security at “serious risk.”

The project also would affect the health of Cabo Pulmo’s coral reef system, according to scientific studies cited by the NGOs.

The organizations are calling on the Environment Secretariat to refuse to grant the joint venture a construction permit for the tourist complex.

Cabo Dorado’s official Web site, meanwhile, says it is a “radically different project to similar ones in the region,” saying it is “unique in the sense that the real estate density has been considerably decreased and the ecological reserve allotted to the conservation of the environment has been increased significantly.”

Environmental groups that warned about the threat Cabo Cortes posed to Cabo Pulmo succeeded in halting construction of that earlier project.

That 7,111-hectare (17,550-acre) marine reserve, 99 percent of which is ocean, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

It boasts the best-preserved coral reef in Mexico’s Pacific region.

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